Over summer, our animals were regularly visited by pythons and goannas. Whilst it’s often confronting to see them, I was comforted to know they were safely protected by housing appropriately designed for the disaster predators – snake proof wire and goanna and snake proof pens and so on. People often ask me why I go to so much trouble with my animal housing and runs and this is why I do.
I believe our animals in permaculture have a right to be protected from predators. It’s worth it not to keep losing poultry and other animals. I’m not happy about repeating the mistakes of others and losing guinea pigs, rabbits, quails and poultry to predators on a regular basis. It’s worth the extra hours, cost and effort to prevent all this heartbreak and cost and to make having animals in the system a pleasurable and successful experience instead of a negative and un-pleasureable one, for both you and the animals.
One of the boasts I make as a permaculture trainer is to say that animals in the permaculture system have the best life of all (even better than wild ones) if we design the best possible systems and structures to meet their needs; protect them from predators and harsh conditions; give them a humane life and death; and respect that they actually have these rights. We all deplore factory farming as it exists today, the catalyst for producing veganism and vegetarianism. Permaculture, at the other end of the spectrum from factory farming, is the most sustainable, ecological and dare I say healthy alternative.
This is all true, though, under the above conditions, beliefs, standards and practices. If we followed these, then permaculture could boast to have the highest standards of farming of animals, obtain a premium financial return on its animal products and earn a high reputation, profile and following. We all care about healthy organic soils and vegetables but what about our animals? Don’t they too deserve the best? Why shouldn’t we put “quite a bit of effort” into the design of their housing; their food sources; their living conditions; and their good health and happiness?
Just because we might eat them, doesn’t mean they should endure a poor, average or even mediocre life. Indeed they are in my opinion entitled to the highest quality life we can give them. It might be a short life but it will be a really good life. And isn’t that what we all want in the end? Our animals are in our hands. We have the power and the responsibility to care for them well, extremely well. So let’s offer vegans and vegetarians another way. Let’s show the world the world’s best practice of animal care, systems, farming and production that everyone can boast about. Let’s show them that Permaculture is the world’s best practice when it comes to animal production.